Gay Pride Zagreb 2002 – The organization of the first Zagreb Pride event in 2002, Gay Pride Zagreb 2002 – “Coming out against prejudice”, presented the first major attempt to change the status of LGBTIQ persons in Croatia. This Pride event marked the beginning of the LGBTIQ movement in Croatia by opening public debates about the visibility of LGBTIQ population. Approximately 300 individuals participated in the 2002 Pride event in Zagreb, including top state officials.
During the first Pride March through the city center, numerous by-standers insulted and verbally abused the participants of the march. Tear gas was thrown at the attendees gathered at Zrinjevac Park. After the Pride March, organized groups of nazi-skinheads beat up about 20 people. 27 people were arrested. No one was ever charged with vandalism, assault or discrimination.
On Saturday, June 29, 2002, the first Pride parade was held in Zagrebs park Zrinjevac. Gay Pride Zagreb 2002 was entitled “Iskorak KONTRA predrasuda” (Coming out against prejudice)
Sometime around 9 AM just before the gathering unknown attackers beat up Mario Kovač, Croatian theatre director, who was supposed to be Prides master of the ceremony, at Kvaternik Square and took his cell phone. As the gathering progressed, homophobic opponents to Gay Pride Zagreb rallied at the western side of Zrinjevac Park, yelling “Go to Serbia!”, “Kill the Serb!”, “Fags to concentration camps!”, “Heil Hitler!”, “Sieg heil!”, “Die!”, and “We are Aryan!”, and then invoked the name of 90s nationalist leader Franjo Tuđman. Some of them tried to jump over the iron fence put up at Zrinjevac Park, but were prevented from doing so. Throughout the gathering the police used video cameras to record it.
As the gathering was coming to an end, tear gas was thrown at the Pride crowd assembled at Zrinjevac.
Most citizens managed to leave the gathering peacefully, and security and police vehicles took the speakers to safety. However, it was then that the bullies started rounding the city center and attacking participants of the gathering, as well as passers-by. During and after the gathering, some twenty people were attacked and injured. The police brought in 27 disorderly persons (11 as a preventive measure, 10 for disorderly conduct, and 6 in order to establish their identity).
Several nazi-skinheads who threatened them and cursed them, which led to another police intervention, met the organizers of the manifestation, who after the gathering attempted to take the props to a van that was waiting for them in Đorđić Street. The organizers left the gathering with the help of the police.
Following the gathering, approximately twenty citizens were beaten up in about ten incidents. Net club Mama was attacked. According to Teodor Celakoski, then-manager of Mama club, seven nazi-skinheads stormed into the club, receiving instructions on where to go via the cell phone. Upon their arrival, they started to harass people, asking them who had gone to the Gay Pride. They randomly chose three people and beat them up. After the gathering, nine attackers attacked the guests of Močvara in Tomić Street. Most commentators agree that had it not been for the police cordon, the gathering would have ended in an explosion of violence.
After the gathering, only 27 people were charged with a misdemeanor.
The failure to sanction the violence that followed the Gay Pride is the severest form of human rights violations in the Republic of Croatia in 2002, when it comes to LGBTIQ community.